‘We got a mayday!’ Small plane crashes onto busy Freeway in Orange County

July 2, 2017

A twin-engine Cessna 310 crashed on the 405 Freeway near John Wayne Airport, Orange County, California.

The plane went down about 9:30 a.m. near the MacArthur Boulevard exit.

The transcript of the call is as follows:

04:02 Pilot: Hey, we got a mayday, we got a ma–
04:07 Pilot: 87297, Mayday! Mayday!

04:15 Pilot: Try and make it back to the airport, 297.
04:18 Tower: 297, roger, 20 right, you’re clear to land.

04:22 Tower: Cessna 650, make a full stop.
05:01 Tower: Your — a gear appears to be up for 297.

05:04 Pilot: Yeah, I know, we’re, we’re still trying to get a little altitude. I’ll put it down when I get to final, 297. I got — I lost my right engine.

The pilot of the Cessna 310 radioed that he had lost one of his engines just after takeoff and then made a frantic mayday call to air traffic controllers seconds before the plane came down on the southbound lanes, north
of the MacArthur Boulevard exit.

“We got a mayday! We got a mayday! … I can’t make it back to the airport,” he could be heard saying.

The names of the 62-year-old pilot and his passenger, a 55-year-old woman, were not immediately released.

The passenger was out of the plane, trying to aid the pilot, when John Meffert, an off-duty fire captain from the city of Avalon on Catalina Island, came to their aid. First-responders arrived soon afterward and doused the
flames using foam.

“I wasn’t even thinking about my own safety, but it was probably due to the wife who was the passenger, I saw her face and head pop up out of the passenger side, if she could be there, then I thought I could be there, I was able to get the wife back to the median, and help the husband, drag him out of the plane,” Meffert said.

“I surprised the wife, she wasn’t a very big lady, but she was really trying to pull her husband out of the plane as well, and I was really amazed they weren’t burned, so a lot of people had angels over them today.
I wasn’t looking for any fame, I’m just here to help people.

Cell phone video filmed by Mirza Baig showed Meffert and other bystanders rush into help, as they tended to the bloodied pilot and his injured passenger.

“My immediate response was just to help out,” Baig said. “When he got pulled out he was at least conscious and he was able to connect with us and communicate with us, so we knew he was gonna be okay.”

The pilot of the six-seater plane
— registered to Twin Props 87297LLC and based out of Santa Ana —
was trying to return to the airport with a crippled right engine minutes after takeoff when it crashed on the southbound lanes of the freeway about 1,000 feet short of Runway 20-R, according to Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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